Looming Dangers Of Attacks On Security Personnel by Ogbonnaya Michael



 

 "Abia govt confirms gunmen attack on police station." - Dailypost of 9 may 2021.

"Boko Haram attacks army base, kills five soldiers." - Punch newspaper of 17 May 2020.

"Eight killed as operatives repel attack on imo police division." - Guardian newspaper of 7 May 2021.

 

Whether you listen to the news, or you pick up a copy of some of our national dailies, these kinds of troubling headlines cannot be avoided. Over the years, Nigerians have experienced armed crimes such as robbery, kidnapping etc. Recently, these attacks have been targeted at our security personnel. In the Northeast, the incessant attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on the Nigerian army have been a reoccurring menace. In the Southeast, series of coordinated, albeit nasty attacks on the Nigerian Police and Army have been perpetrated by 'unknown gunmen'. These attacks on our security personnel can be likened to a fly that is perched on the scrotum and hence, require critical attention.

Following the blitz of deadly attacks on our security officers, some of the questions which have engrossed the minds of concerned Nigerians include; Who are those killing security personnel in Nigeria? Why have security officers become their target? What are the motives of those perpetrating these attacks? How long will these attacks continue?

 

Brief insight on these attacks

In Northern Nigeria, several attacks have been made on members of the Nigerian Army by Boko Haram insurgents. The group whose name means "western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language spoken across northern Nigeria, has claimed responsibility for several attacks on the Nigerian Army. Punch newspaper of 17 May 2020, reported that "Boko Haram fighters have attacked a Nigerian Army location at 156 Battalion in Mainok area, Borno state, killing five soldiers". On several occasions, these insurgents have made away with ammunition belonging to the Nigerian Army.

A worrisome trend of assault on security personnel, especially the Nigerian Police, is rearing its ugly head in the Southeast. When these attacks are critically appraised, a definite pattern is noticed; 'Unknown Gunmen' attack Police stations, Police officers are killed, Detainees are freed, Police stations are razed by fire, assault rifles and other weapons of the Nigerian Police are carted away by these gunmen. Although the motive behind these attacks has not been ascertained, some members of the public have pointed accusing fingers at Nnamdi Kanu's Eastern Security Network (ESN). My esteemed readers would recall that owing to the incessant attacks on farmers by armed fulani herdsmen and the perceived inability of the Southeast governors to tackle this issue, Nnamdi Kanu set up a security wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). On 24 April 2021, reports claimed that ESN commander, Ikonso, was killed in Imo state by  men of the Nigerian Army.

Reacting to the development, IPOB's media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, vowed that "Imo state Governor, Hope Uzodinma, and all those who had a hand in the wickedness(death of Ikonso) will pay". Coincidentally, pockets of attacks on Nigerian Police have visited the southeast Nigeria states since this statement was made. The attack on Hope Uzodinma's house and consequent killing of his security guards is also noteworthy. Shey you dey get the gist?

 


Why the attacks on security personnel?

During election period in the country, security threats such as arming of political thugs for election malpractices by desperate politicians, use of inciting statements during political campaigns and in some cases, violent attacks by these armed thugs on our security personnel are usually noticed. ThisDay of 31 August 2020 reported that "the (then) Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has raised the alarm that politicians in Edo and Ondo states are arming thugs ahead of the governorship polls scheduled for September 19 and October 10 respectively". Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chukwuma Soludo, who is also an aspirant in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra state, was attacked by gunmen who killed three policemen attached to him. It is clear that the attack on Soludo has a political undertone.

 An African proverb has it that "when a mad man starts to use chewing stick, every tree becomes a victim". After elections, these armed thugs continue to perpetrate varying degrees of heinous crimes. Even our security officers are not spared when they want to curb the activities of these armed thugs.

 

The organized attempt by some groups such as Boko Haram to defeat the Nigerian government and take control of some parts of the country has been a major reason for several attacks on the Nigerian security personnel especially in the Northeastern Nigeria. Stories of Boko Haram terrorists and the Nigerian troops engaging in a fierce gun battle have always made headlines on the pages of our national dailies. Although IPOB has vehemently denied responsibility for the attacks on several police stations in the Southeast, many still believe that the group cannot be exonerated from the attacks. Wahala dey!

 


Following a report by Dailypost of 9 May 2021 that gunmen attacked a Police station in Abia state, a statement from John Okiyi Kalu, commissioner for information Abia state, reads that "those who feel aggrieved must find peaceful means of ventilating their grievances and agitate for redress as provided for in our constitution rather than take the laws into their hands". From his statement, we can extract that, grievances of some people, is one of the reasons for attack on security personnel. These grievances could stem from brutality and harassment of some persons by security personnel, perceived marginalization of certain tribe in the country, bad governance etc.

 

Some political parties have been accused of sponsoring the activities of these insurgents in a bid to score cheap political points. Vanguard newspaper of 22 December 2014 reported that the "national leadership of the People's Democratic Party, PDP, has again alleged that the leadership of the All Progressive Congress, APC, was behind the continued cases of insurgency where members of the Boko Haram sect have engaged in massive killings and wanton destruction of property". APC, in their response, also accused PDP of sponsoring this insurgency.

Similarly, while speaking to a radio station, the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, alleged that a (then) serving governor was a sponsor of Boko Haram.

These allegations and counter allegations, whether true or not, are indications that some corrupt politicians sponsor the attack on our security personnel for their selfish political interest.

 

Consequences of these attacks

Security personnel are charged with the responsibility of securing the lives and properties of the citizens. When they are attacked, it constitutes danger to everyone because the country will be plagued by insecurity.

Criminals, when freed from detention centres by these unknown gunmen, are reintegrated into the society. Consequently, there is an increase in criminal activities such as armed robbery, burglary, rape, kidnapping, insurgency, and even attacks on our security personnel. Testament to this fact is the increased attacks on the Nigerian Police in Imo state after gunmen attacked Owerri prison and freed 1,844 inmates. The release of these inmates and the surge in attacks on the Nigerian Police couldn't have been mere happenstance.

Curfew, or state of emergency, is usually imposed in response to incidents of attacks on security personnel. Apart from the destruction of physical infrastructure, attacks on security personnel have severe effects on economic growth. Businesses are sometimes abruptly brought to a standstill and people are restricted from going about their normal businesses during this period. This exposes several families to the scourge of hunger and hardship.

When security personnel are attacked, innocent persons are killed either directly or indirectly. Directly by stray bullets and indirectly by Soldiers who are on rampage. PulseNg of 1 November 2020 reported that In obigbo Rivers State, after six Army officers and four policemen were killed by gunmen suspected to be IPOB members, it was alleged that the Army went on rampage and people were seen in the pool of their blood.



 

Quelling these attacks

Since attacks on security personnel are perpetrated with arms, the Nigerian Customs must checkmate the proliferation of arms into the country. The uncontrolled accumulation and spread of different categories of weapons makes it easier for insurgents to carryout dastardly attacks on the Nigerian Police and Army.

On issues pertaining security, Nepotism in all its ramifications, must be eschewed. The appointment of service chiefs must be strictly on merit and competence to tackle security threats.

The judicial system of the country must be revitalized such that people who feel aggrieved due to harassment and brutality meted out to them by security personnel, or those whose family members were murdered by either the Nigerian Army or Police, would have confidence in the judiciary for justice. Otherwise, some aggrieved persons may take laws into their hands.

There should be series of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Information gathering is essential towards curtailing the attacks on security personnel. The masses should also be oriented on the need to disclose information about these insurgents and criminals to the appropriate authorities


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In conclusion

Nigeria is in a precarious situation and great caution must be taken to avoid events that have the capacity of essentially aggravating or opening more theaters of security crises. Attacks on security personnel is real and must be treated as a matter of national emergency.

It is important that the people realize that attacks on our security personnel will leave the country vulnerable and susceptible to security crises.

The Nigerian government, on their part, must take adequate and relentless approach towards curbing the surge in attacks on our security personnel and consequently, eradicate the looming danger of security crises. A quick and effective approach is essential because he who goes to sleep with an itching anus wakes up with a smelly finger.



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